Following the recent controversy generated over alleged lopsided postings in the Nigerian Army, members of the Northern Senators Forum met over the weekend to discuss a perceived marginalization of the North in the army.
Sources in Abuja confirmed that leaders of the forum circulated a paper, which contained a table of alleged postings in the military in recent times. The document also showed how the Igbo tribe has been favoured in recent postings, in clear breach of the federal character principle as they were made to occupy choice postings and commanding positions.
It was gathered that the forum resolved to officially protest the lop-sidedness and ethnic imbalance in the postings.
“We have resolved to launch protests against this imbalance and ensure that the right thing is done,” a source said, adding that in a federation, every arm of government and agency must be ready to play by the rules.
However, a group, Information for Democracy and Development (IDD) has come to the defense of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika, calling the allegations “needless distractions aimed at dragging the military into politics”.
In the group’s opinion, the allegations were the handiwork of some disgruntled elements who are uncomfortable with the re-engineering work being done by Gen. Ihejirika within the army, and they are hoping to mislead the public about the true picture of things within the army.
They may, as well, be people who have twisted the fact to mislead members of the public and distract government in the fight against terrorism.
Allegations of nepotism against Ihejirika, coming at this time, are, indeed, diabolic and a calculated attempt to distract the army leadership from its laudable counter-terrorism campaigns, which have already started bearing fruits.
“Apart from the principles of quota and federal character, we believe that the army, being a professional body, must insist on certain minimum qualification,” the National Coordinator of the group, Mr Joshua Yahaya said.
Also, another publication on 247U, a news site, wrote in defence of Ihejirika against the allegations of favouritism in the army postings. It wrote thus:
“It has come to our notice that there is a campaign by some unscrupulous and unpatriotic elements, whose intentions appear to be bent on destabilising the Nigerian military and nation at large.
“This campaign is being propagated in the form of a spurious article being circulated, alleging that the Ihejirika is on some sinister and clandestine operations to Igbonise the Nigerian Army.
“The COAS has been accused of selectively promoting only Igbos at the expense of others. Well, nothing can be further from the truth, and this will be demonstrated in a very clear and dispassionate analysis in rebuttal to the openly biased and ethnically tinged attempt by some disgruntled elements.
“What this hatchet job of an article has done is to selectively focus on the promotion of four officers, and then proceed to make bold claims that these promotions were ethnically motivated because the said officers were of Igbo origin, and then conjure up a justification of why their promotions were ethnically motivated by employing a lot of hyperbole and incredulous reach in drawing conclusions from far-fetched inferences.
“The elements behind this very dishonest article have done this while ignoring the holistic picture of all promotions within the different cadres of the army.
“They focused on the promotions of Brigadiers Ugwu of the Ordinance Corps, Nwaogbo of the Armored Corps, Agha Okoro of the Supply and Transport Corps and Chioba of the Corp of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers only. How can this be a complete picture when 43 Brigadiers were promoted as Major Generals in 2011 and 22 promoted in 2012?”